LOOK AND LIVE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-15-76 8:15 a.m.
We welcome you who are sharing with us this service on the radio of the city of Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message on one of the tremendously great texts of all the Word of God. In our preaching through the Book of Isaiah, we have come to chapter 45, and the text is verse 22. Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
This is a message that is directed to all mankind. This is the message of the prophets, and of the seers, and of the sages, and of the psalmists through all time. “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” And conditioned upon the response of the man to that invitation is his character, and his condition, and his destiny.
We look first, and we shall begin at the last and come up to the first in the text, we look first at the substance of the text in its context. It is this, that there is only one true God:
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it. . .I am the Lord, and there is none else. . .These nations set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. . .who hath declared from ancient time what should happen in the future? Who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God beside Me; a great just God and a Savior; there is none beside Me. Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
[Isaiah 45:18, 20-22]
When you read the passage, the tremendous emphasis is first upon the one only true God. As the people cried on Mt. Carmel in the presence of Elijah and the prophets of Baal [1 Kings 18:24-37], when the fire fell the people cried, “The Lord Jehovah, He is God,” and they repeated it [1 Kings 18:38-39].
What has become of the false deities and the idols worshiped by the ancient people? What has become of the gods of Nineveh, before whom the multitudes prostrated themselves? Ask the moles and the bats who are now their companions. Ask the mounds of earth under which they are buried. Ask the sauntering idol gazers who walk through these museums and look upon those gods as curiosities.
What is become the gods of ancient Greece, these for whom they wrote such sublime odes, these for whom they built such sanctuaries and temples as did astonish the world? The temple of Artemis at Ephesus, or the Parthenon at Athens, or the most colossal ancient ruins to be seen in the world, those dedicated to Jupiter at Baalbek in Celo-Syria. Where are those gods today? Where are the gods of ancient Rome? Does Janis still preside over the destiny of the legions? Do the vestal virgins still keep their perpetual fires?
Like Dagon, falling before the ark of the Lord [1 Samuel 5:4], they are broken in pieces. They are cast down from their pedestals. They no longer ascend their thrones. Their scepters are burned and their glories are departed. There is one true God [Isaiah 45:21], and His name is the Lord Jehovah of Israel.
Will you notice, again, “Call unto Me, look unto Me, face unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am the Lord, and there is none other” [Isaiah 45:22]. Who are these “ends of the earth?” If we stand here, the ends of the earth are far and far away. But wherever we stand, there are we to call upon the Lord and to look unto Him [Isaiah 45:22].
The aborigines of central Australia, they are some of the ends of the earth. The Hottentot, and the bushman, and the Bantu in darkest central Africa, they are a part of the ends of the earth. The Stone Age Indians of the Amazon Valley, they are some of the ends of the earth. And if we stand there, then look here, we are a part of the ends of the earth.
The polished Bostonian Harvard graduate, the educated Princetonian, the learned and erudite seminarian, the drunkard, and the harlot, the moral man, as well as the wicked man, we are a part of the ends of the earth. And you who are listening to me this morning, you are a part of the ends of the earth, and I am one of the ends of the earth. “Look unto Me, face unto Me, call unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” [Isaiah 45:22].
Will you look, third, at the marvelous directive and appeal that God makes to us? “Look unto Me, and be ye saved” [Isaiah 45:22]. The ancient philosophers sought by every genius of human wisdom to find answers to the great questions in life. You cannot read of Socrates in Plato, or Aristotle, and not sense the struggle of those men of greatest mind to find answers to the relevant and eternal questions of life. But they could not seek them to find them. They grope in midnight darkness.
The grave, and the blackness of death, and the eternity that lay beyond were beyond their ableness to comprehend, or to delineate, or to describe, or to find meaning and purpose in them. Not until God was incarnate in Christ Jesus [Matthew 1:23-25], and not until He brought life and immortality to light [2 Timothy 1:10], do we ever find an ultimate answer to the ultimate question that faces mankind. And He cries unto us: “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” [Isaiah 45:22].
Do you notice how simple is that appeal, and how plain and understandable is that plan? You don’t need an education to look. It’s not a matter of status or political power. It is not even a concern of moral righteousness. The text says, “And God says, just look, look” [Isaiah 45:22]; and that is our problem and our stumbling. How could such a simple and small thing as a man to look, how could that deliver him from death and the grave, and to immortality in the eternity that is yet to come? Somehow we feel there must be something more than that. There must be some mysterious rituals and ceremonies and rites that are connected with it. Surely there are some incomprehensible words that are to be said. Surely, surely there are to be great acts to be done if we are to be saved before the great God.
It’s like Naaman, leprous, standing outside the door of the house of Elisha. The prophet of God didn’t even come out to see him, great man as he was; but he sent his servant and said, “Go wash, go wash in the Jordan River. Dip yourself seven times, and your flesh will come again like unto the flesh of a little child, and you will be clean” [2 Kings 5:1, 8-10]. And Naaman was wroth, “Why, I thought at least,” he said, “he would come out, and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand in dramatic fervor over the place of the leprosy” [2 Kings 5:11]. Or I thought at least he would tell me to do some great and mighty thing, like conquer an empire, or bring a gift of five million talents of gold. But to wash, to wash, anybody could wash [2 Kings 5:12].
The word is, “Look,” four letters and two of them are alike, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved” [Isaiah 45:22]. If we have any inclination at all to look, we look elsewhere. Isn’t that a perverseness and a stubbornness of human nature? “If I’m going to look, I’ll not look to God. I will look elsewhere. I will look to Moses. I will look to the lightenings and thunderings of Mt. Sinai, or I will look to the righteousness of the law in order to be saved.” Or, “I will look to the minister, or I will look to the priest, or I will look to the church.” Or, “I will look to the ordinances. See, here is water, my sins can be washed away in the liquid pool.” Isn’t that a perverseness? All of us have a tendency to look, but not to God. Look anywhere but to Him. But the great and mighty appeal of the great Jehovah God is to “Look unto Me, and be ye saved” [Isaiah 45:22].
“Looking to God; I don’t understand. I can’t comprehend. I don’t see it. Look. What does that mean?” It is the same thing as if a man were lost in a forest, and he looks to a guide to lead him. Same thing as if a man had his arm mangled in a machine, as I saw one time, and he looks to the doctor and the surgeon to heal him. Same thing as if a man were in a great legal perplexity, and he looks to a lawyer. Or the common, everyday thing of being hungry and looking to the grocery man for food. Looking to God. But I can’t see Him! I look and the earth is iron and the heavens are brass. I don’t comprehend. I don’t understand. God never said, “See.” He never said, “Understand.” He never said, “Comprehend.” He said, “Look!” [Isaiah 45:22].
And here is a marvelous thing. The word here translated “look” is not the usual Hebrew word translated “look.” The word here could be best translated “face unto Me.” It is the turning. It is the expectancy. It is not the seeing or the understanding. I can well imagine in the passage that you read this morning about Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness; these were dying who were bitten by venomous serpents [Numbers 21:6-7], and Moses, lifting up that brazen serpent said, “And whosoever shall look, shall live” [Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14-16]. I can imagine a man being so stricken with the poison of those vipers that he lost his eyesight. Does that mean he couldn’t be saved because he’s blind? No. No. He could turn his sightless eyes. Somebody could lead him and say there is that brazen serpent raised in the camp; and he could turn his sightless eyes, and God would heal him! For it’s the turning. It’s the expectancy. It’s the obedience of faith and trust that saves the man! [Romans 1:5].
In the prayer of our British intern, he mentioned Dr. Truett. I copy from the great pastor the simple little story of his own marvelous conversion. Quote, “I sat in the audience one night and listened to the preacher as he pleaded that Christ might have His own way, and save a soul. I said, ‘Lord Jesus, it is all dark. I cannot understand. But dark or light, live or die, come what may, I surrender right now to Christ.’ He saved me then.”
Did you see that? The great pastor said, “I said, ‘Lord Jesus, it is all dark. I cannot understand. But understand or not, live or die, dark or light, I call upon Thee, I come to Thee, I trust in Thee, I surrender to Thee.’” We are saved not by our seeing, and not by our brilliant understanding, and not by our erudition and our explanations, but we are saved by looking, by turning, by facing unto God [Isaiah 45:22].
There is life for a look at the Crucified One,
There is life at this moment for thee
Then look, sinner, look unto Him who can save,
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
[from “There is Life for a Look at the Crucified One,” Miss A. M. Hull]
How humbling that is for us. The rich man is saved in the same way that his butler, or his maid, or his cook is saved; looking to Jesus. That brilliant and erudite scholar is saved in the same way as that common laborer who never went to school a day in his life. That polished and elevated and elected national figure is saved in the same way as that ragged urchin out in the street. That moral and righteous man is saved in the same way as the harlot and the common drunkard. And that Jew is saved in the same way as that Gentile dog. “God hath concluded us all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all” [Romans 11:32]. It is, “Look and live” [John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:8-9]. It is, “Wash and be clean” [Revelation 7:14; 2 Kings 5:10-14]. It is, “Trust and be saved” [Acts 16:30-31].
Stewart Petty, our British intern, said to me as I walked into the sanctuary this morning, he said, “Are you going to speak about Spurgeon today?” I said, “Stewart that is the climax of the sermon.” This is Spurgeon’s great text. This is the message that turned that brilliant, gifted, able young man, the greatest preacher in this world; this is the text that turned him to the Lord [Isaiah 45:22]. And I said, “Stewart Petty, not only shall I mention him, but I’m going to read from his own sermon, his own account of the marvelous conversion of his life.”
It was the first Sunday in January of . It was the sixth day of the month. He was fifteen years of age and had been seeking the Lord in great agony of spirit for several years. And seeking the Lord had gone from place to place, and chapel to chapel, and church to church, and minister to minister. He was in a southeastern England town called Colchester. He started out on a Sunday morning to go to a certain church, but a blinding snowstorm stopped him, and turning into a little court, he found there a small Primitive Methodist chapel. Now we listen to him:
I had been about five years in the most fearful distress of mind as a lad. If any human being felt more of the terror of God’s law, I can indeed pity and sympathize with him. I thought the sun was blotted out of my sky, that I had so sinned against God that there was no hope for me. I prayed. The Lord knoweth how I prayed. But I never had a glimpse of an answer that I knew of. I searched the Word of God. The promises were more alarming than the threatenings. I read the privileges of the people of God, but with the fullest persuasion that they were not for me. The secret of my distress was this: I did not know the gospel. I was in a Christian land, I had Christian parents, but I did not understand the freeness and simplicity of the gospel. I attended all the places of worship in the town where I lived, but I honestly believe I did not hear the gospel fully preached. I do not blame the men, however. One man preached the divine sovereignty; I could hear him with pleasure. But what was that to a poor sinner, who wished to know what he should do to be saved? There was another admirable man who always preached about the law; but what was the use of plowing up ground that needed to be sown? I knew it was said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ But I did not know what it was to believe in Christ.
I sometimes think that I might have been in darkness and despair now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, when I was going to a place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a court and came to a little Primitive Methodist chapel. In that chapel there might be a dozen, or fifteen people. The minister did not come that morning; snowed up, I suppose. A poor man, a shoemaker, a tailor, or something of the sort went into the pulpit to preach. This same poor man was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had nothing else to say. The text was, ‘Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth’. He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter; there was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in the text. He began thus, “My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now that does not take a great deal of effort. It ain’t lifting your foot or finger. It is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man need not go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool and yet can look. A man need not be worth a thousand a year to look. Anybody can look. A child can look. This is what the text says. Then it says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Aye,” said he in broad Essex, “Many of you are looking to yourselves. No use looking there. You’ll never find comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by and by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some of you say, ‘I must wait the Spirit’s working.’ You have no business with that just now; look to Christ. It says, ‘Look unto Me!”’ Then the good man followed up his text in this way, “‘Look unto Me, I am sweating great drops of blood. Look unto Me, I am hanging on the cross. Look, I am dead and buried. Look unto Me, I rise again. Look unto Me, I ascend. I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. Oh, look to Me, look to Me.’” When he had got about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I dare say with so few present he knew me to be a stranger. He then said, “Young man, you look so miserable.” Well, I did. But I had not been accustomed to having remarks made on my personal appearance from the pulpit. It was a good blow struck. He continued. “And you will always be miserable, miserable in life, miserable in death, if you do not obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus, look now.” And that moment I did look to Jesus Christ. I looked until I could have looked my eyes away. And in heaven I will look still in joy unutterable.
There and then the cloud was gone. The darkness had rolled away. And that moment I saw the sun. I could have risen that moment and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh that somebody had told me that before. We are saved in just trusting Christ, in looking to Him.
There is life for a look at the Crucified One,
There is life at this moment for thee;
Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved,
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
I have a message from the Lord, Hallelujah,
It is only that you look and live
Look and live, my brother, live;
Look to Jesus now, and live
It’s recorded in His Word, Hallelujah,
It is only that you look and live.
[“Look and Live,” William A. Ogden]
I have no money to buy it. It’s not for cost. I have no righteousness to commend me to God. It is not for our holiness or purity. The only qualification is that I am a dying man. I am a sinner man. I am a lost man. And if I am a sinner, and if I am lost, and if I’m dying, the invitation is for me. “Look and live [John 3:14-15]. Wash and be clean [Revelation 7:14]. Believe and be saved” [Acts 16:30-31].
Do you mind my changing our invitation hymn to that song, 195?
I’ve a message from the Lord, Hallelujah,
This message to you I’ll give
‘Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah,
It is only that you look and live.
And while we sing that hymn, in this throng in the balcony round, you, somebody you; in the press of people on this lower floor, somebody you, “Today, I will look to Jesus.” I have nothing to commend myself to Him. We don’t need it. I have no ableness to buy. It’s without money and without price [Isaiah 55:1]. I have no great stature or status or prestige. It is for the humblest among us. It is just to look, to trust, to surrender [Isaiah 45:22]. Would you do it today? A couple of you, take her by the hand, “Let’s both open the door of heart and home to the blessed Jesus. Let’s look unto Him” [Isaiah 45:22]. A family with these dear people, let us invest our prayers and the love of our hearts, looking to the Lord Jesus [John 3:14-17]. Would you make the decision now in your heart? And when we stand up to sing, on the first note of the first stanza, come. “Here I am. I make it now.” Do it and see, if there is not from heaven’s merciful grace and goodness and God’s hands, that rich and blessed coming into your heart that all of us have found who have looked in faith and in trust to the Lord Jesus [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Do it now, come now, while we stand and while we sing.
LOOK AND LIVE
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
2-15-76 8:15 a.m.
I. The one true and only God
1. Elijah and prophets of Baal
2. Ancient gods are gone and buried
3. Modern gods will also go by the way of the ancient pagan gods
II. To whom it is addressed
1. From here to the uttermost parts of the earth
2. We are the ends of the earth
III. God’s appeal – a simple plan for us
1. Look unto Me and be ye saved, Isaiah 45:22
2. Look and live, Numbers 21:8-9
IV. Spurgeon’s conversion